Bad weather today forced us to cancel our Sunset Soiree and I'm heartbroken. As I packed up the Hors d'oeuvres I had prepared and made the trek home in the snow and ice I convinced myself it could have been worse. Having to postpone and reschedule a wedding would be not only heartbreaking but a huge headache.
When a situation arises that causes you to postpone your wedding, you should make every effort to let your guests know as soon as possible. Many of them may need to cancel travel arrangements, which often have deadlines for refunds. Others will simply appreciate being kept informed. It is appropriate to concisely explain why the wedding is being postponed, such as "due to the snow storm" or "due to Bride's illness."
There are many reasons a couple may decide to postpone or cancel a wedding- none of them are happy or easy. But once you have made that decision, how should you tell your guests, and what happens to all the gifts?
Notifying Family and Friends - If the wedding has not yet been formally announced, you can simply tell your closest friends and family that you are postponing your wedding, who will then notify anyone else who asks. If invitations have not yet gone out, yet many guests already know of your original wedding date, send out a simple printed card, reading along the lines of: Due to a family illness, the wedding of Anne Scott to Kamau Thomas will not take place on October 14 as originally planned. A new wedding date will be announced as soon as possible.
After notifying family and friends, the next step is to notify all vendors. If the cancellation is due to a death in the family, illness, etc., contact your wedding insurance carrier. (Unfortunately, if you canceled because of cold feet, you will not receive any benefits from your policy.)Then start contacting your vendors, first by phone, then in writing. Check your contracts which should have a cancellation policy entitling you to a return of a portion of your deposit if you pull out by a certain date. The closer you are to the wedding, the less likely you are to get anything back. Still, it's good to cancel in writing so that no one will try to bill you for any more than you've already spent.
What to do with the gifts? You are supposed to return all engagement, shower, and wedding gifts you've received to the guests who sent them, along with a note thanking them for their generosity. Some people feel that monogrammed items are an exception, but since you probably don't need reminders of the wedding around, why risk offending a friend? You may have started using some of those early presents like kitchen utensils and linens; and in this case, it's probably okay to keep them.
Canceling a wedding dress - If you've special ordered your dress, you may not be able to get any of your money back. After all, they were making it especially for you and your measurements. Contact the dress maker as soon as possible to see what options are available to you. If it's early enough, they may be able to stop production and refund some money. Some dressmakers may be able to sell the dress for you at an upcoming sample sale or discount rack. But if the dressmaker says they can't do anything for you, you still have options. Many brides sell their dresses on ebay, while others turn to consignment shops, or simply donating their dress to charity. A few brides are even able to take their dresses to a costume shop to have the dress dyed so they can wear it to parties!
Don't forget to cancel the honeymoon. Your ability to recoup any expenses, particularly for airfare or cruise tickets, depends largely on what kind of ticket you bought, and the airlines or cruiseline's cancellation policy. If you bought trip insurance, it is only applicable in cases of illness, natural disaster, etc., not changes of heart.
Canceling or postponing a wedding is an event which no one anticipates or plans for, but there are wrong ways and right ways to get through even this unfortunate situation. The "bride" and "groom" and their respective families will do themselves proud and show themselves as caring to friends and family if correct etiquette is followed should such circumstances arise.